Advocates talk recent law allowing people on parole to vote

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Today’s primary is the first major election since Governor Cuomo signed off on legislation to automatically return voting rights to those formerly incarcerated for felony violations once they are released on parole.

“As soon as someone is released onto parole, they are told specifically you’re right to vote has been restored, they’re given the opportunity to register to vote right in that moment. There’s follow up in case they don’t get told at that very moment,” said Jennifer Wilson with the League of Women Voters of New York State.

She says the new system is more streamlined. “The old rule that was essentially an executive order that allowed for partial pardons of people on parole to allow them to vote, there had to be notice given from the Governor’s Office, and essentially the Governor had to sign every single one of these partial pardons, a very laborious, onerous process,” she said. Additionally, she says in a lot of cases people were not informed that their voting rights had been restored. 

Victor Pate with the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement also says there were delays. “People even after they were issued their conditional pardons were having difficulties in registering and also being allowed to vote because apparently this had not filtered down to the various levels,” he said.

Pate says it’s important to allow formerly incarcerated people who have served their time to be a part of the civic process. “When a person is out and you have the opportunity to be back in the community with your family and with others, then I think just having the right to vote is only the right thing to do,” he said.

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